50 years ago: Tourism in the spotlight

In the Jan. 18, 1966 edition of the Caymanian Weekly, a precursor of the Cayman Compass, George Town was abuzz with the arrival of a group of tourism promoters:

“A contingent of 23 people, most representing concerns which help to promote Cayman’s tourist industry, arrived here on Saturday’s BWIA flight for a three day visit. The flight, arranged as a tourist promotion visit in conjunction with the BWIA jet inaugural to the Cayman Islands, was originally scheduled for Dec. 17 when the first jet aeroplane landed at Owen Roberts Airport. It was delayed, however, because many of the party would have been unable to leave their businesses at that time.

“On hand to greet the visitors, among whom was Miami’s mayor, the Hon. Robert King High, was His Honour the Administrator Mr. J.A. Cumber, and other dignitaries. The owners and managers of Grand Cayman’s leading hotels were also at the airport to meet the visitors and to escort them to their various lodgings.

“One of the highlights of an interesting programme arranged for the visitors was a boat trip on Monday across the North Sound to Rum Point and Cayman Kai at North Side and thence to the Tortuga Club at Colliers. Five of the group flew to Cayman Brac on Monday for a short visit.

“The Caymanian interviewed three of the visitors at the conclusion of their stay and it was learned that although the island was termed ‘delightful,’ there is ‘much room for improvement’ in promoting tourism here.

“Gordon Lattey, Associate Editor of Air Travel Magazine, advised that facilities to attract more tourists must be set up or expanded.

“‘I’m impressed with the island and with its people – but I think you have a lot of work to do,’ Mr. Lattey said, with the added advice, ‘You have attractions for sportsmen but nothing beyond that – and there could be better roads.’

“Another bit of advice was offered by Al Dinhofer, editor of the Beachcomber publication, who has visited nearly all the islands in the Caribbean.

“‘Your island is right on the launching pad of tomorrow and either you go up by promoting or you’ll abort. Either you blast away with promotion of tourism or you’ll be left behind.

“‘The island has great potential and one of the greatest attractions is the congeniality of the people,’ Mr. Dinhofer said.

“In answer, Mrs. Frances Junge, head of the New York office of the Cayman Islands Tourist Board, said, ‘We know all this, and this is the reason we printed a general brochure at great expense to the Cayman Government, but the island is only coming into its own in tourism. It’s coming along slowly – but it is coming.’”

Another event caused some excitement in the waters off George Town, as reported by Birney Jarvis:

“‘I’ve a whale of a tale to tell you lads, a whale of a tale but true’ – and it was a whale of a whale that brought work to a standstill at Sea View Lodge last Thursday morning.

“Now there are some, it is true, who say this whale was nothing but a big blackfish – but ask any one of the people at Sea View what they think about it.

“Capt. Frank Roulstone, a sailor of the seas in everything from whaleboats to five masted schooners and those iron buckets they call freighters, is pretty darned sure what he saw off the shore of his Sea View Lodge [was a whale].

“Blackfish or whale or whatever, a large black mammal, fish or thing, spouting in the best tradition of ‘Thar she blows,’ was having a little fun off Sea View’s ironshore, around 10 a.m. Thursday. He – or she – stayed around for about an hour and then headed south.

“No one’s ever admitted spotting a while in these waters, at last in recent years, because everybody knows that whales like water that’s cooler than ours. One local whaling expert explained, however, that whales make an annual migration to warmer waters to calve, and that usually occurs in January.”

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